December 12, 2018

Books

Cliches can be used as a political tool. "Prefabricated language helps everybody from prime ministers to CEOs disguise what they really want to say."

"Everyone has a religion. It is, in fact, impossible not to have a religion if you are a human being. It’s in our genes and has expressed itself in every culture, in every age, including our own secularized husk of a society."

"Shouldn’t literature enchant, surprise, and teach us? And to make this happen, shouldn’t we be the most expert readers we can be?"

"Dutton Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House, is releasing a series of tiny books that give the act of reading a studied whimsy."

"...after more than 40 years, at the age of 94, Christopher Tolkien has laid down his editor’s pen, having completed a great labor of quiet, scholastic commitment to his father’s vision."

"An earlier generation of feminist scholars sought to question not merely the greatness of canonical works but the very possibility of objective aesthetic judgment, upon which the notion of literary greatness depends."

"In the late 1960s, appointments in Jewish studies were springing up in tandem with the “adversarial culture.” But we intended to strengthen the universities, not to trash them."

"The essay needs talented practitioners, readers capable of the mental repose required to take pleasure in it, and connoisseurs with an understanding of the rich tradition out of which it derives."

"I was instantly wary when Atwood announced that her Handmaid’s sequel, The Testaments, would be set 15 years after the events of the first novel, and that “everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings” was her inspiration. "

"Written as Hitler came to power, "The Oppermanns" by Lion Feuchtwanger captured the confusion, fear and denial that allowed him to wreak havoc for 12 years."

"Decades before the rise of Zionism, 19th-century American playwright and diplomat Mordecai Manuel Noah envisioned a refuge for European Jews—on an island near Buffalo."

"Each critic sees him- or herself in Oscar Wilde. Saint Oscar; Wilde the Irishman; Wilde the wit. The classicist; the socialist; the martyr for gay rights. “To be premature is to be perfect”, Wilde wrote; “History lives through its anachronisms.”"

"We know it’s a meal we shovel into our faces in the middle of the day, typically hunched over a laptop or, if we’re lucky, at a restaurant. It’s also a time when good sense gets left behind for expediency."

"As you may gather from the title, Why They Can’t Write is about how we teach — or don’t teach — students how to write effectively, particularly at the threshold between late high school and early college."

"Deliveries are now expected to go into neighborhoods that were never designed for freight traffic — creating congestion, noise problems, and infrastructure damage in addition to emissions."

"Even at its most sophisticated, atheism is bound not to stray too much from its more fortunate relation, with the result that “some of the most radical forms of atheism” are indistinguishable from “some mystical varieties of religion.”"

"In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the end of the century, technology would have become so far advanced that developed economies would have a 15-hour workweek. So how did we get to our current state...?"

"The confusing thing about Franzen is that even people who hate him admit that he is a great novelist, and even people who love him admit that his essays are often a little on the insufferable..."

"While many books experience sweeping popularity, Ferrante’s novels are part of a subgroup of pop culture that compels people to travel. Tour groups like Looking for Lila and Ferrante Fever Naples have popped up across Naples..."

"Capitalism disadvantages women along several axes. The dawn of the industrial revolution enshrined a division of labor that largely confined them to the domestic sphere."

"The children’s literary canon is sinking into the muck of identity politics, with grievance-studies devotees seeking to either “de-platform” older books, or teach them through the single-issue lens of grievances studies."

"This year’s Booker-winner Milkman has been criticised for being challenging.... Attacking a literary prize for rewarding a book that doesn’t accord with a critic’s ideas about “readability” is simply philistinism."

"If it were true that novelists needed “quietude, time and space” to produce novels, Preston would be right to declare a state of crisis. But Bellow wrote his first novel while serving on a merchant marine ship during the Second World War."

"For children of all ages, books about such charged topics are, in the words of one publishing executive, coming to be seen as more “retail-friendly.”"

"Amazon has assembled a collection of climate-change fiction, or cli-fi, bringing a literary biodiversity to bear on the defining crisis of the era."

"Surely there is nothing left to say about Anne Frank, except that there is everything left to say about her: all the books she never lived to write. "

"Sylvia Plath died in London in February 1963, a largely unknown writer. She wrote almost all of the poems we know her by in the final months of her life, after separating from her husband Ted Hughes."

"An illustrated adaptation of the teenage Holocaust victim’s diary calls into question which avenues are best for retelling painful, complicated histories."

"For two years, the pseudonymous literary sensation corresponded regularly with the director adapting “My Brilliant Friend” for HBO. But the resulting show is a testament to her elusiveness."

"Meaning making, positing purpose, and religious thinking are all more an intuitive, “gut,” or “heart” process than they are a rational, analytical, or “head” one."

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JJ Best Of The Web

"Like many Western analyses of the Middle East, they reduce Iraq’s complex internal conflicts to catchall explainers of ‘sectarianism’ and ‘tribalism’ – presuming that some groups of people are intrinsically primed for antagonism."

" he's a loser in the precise sense that his singular accomplishment in American public life has been to lose a Senate race to the stupendously unpopular Republican Ted Cruz."

"While applauding the social impetus, Israelis are divided in opinions on an American-based initiative and question its grammatical integrity."

A look at the networks that churn out nonstop, formulaic Christmas movies; the actors who star in all of them; and the fans who can't stop watching.

"The Department of Homeland Security wants to use credit scores to determine immigration cases. That sets a dangerous precedent."

"Traffic. Congestion. Pollution. Hours-long commutes. What if you could leave it all behind and trade it in for an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient personal copter—all without a pilot’s license?"

"“But Qutb saw something else. The dancers in front of him were tragic lost souls. They believed they were free, but in reality they were trapped by their own selfish and greedy desires.”"

Cliches can be used as a political tool. "Prefabricated language helps everybody from prime ministers to CEOs disguise what they really want to say."

"Santa is nothing but stress for families who don’t believe in him. Trying to keep other kids from finding out the truth can cause a holiday-season-long headache."

"Umami is hard to describe in words. In the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield defines it as “that deep, dark, meaty intensity that distinguishes seared beef, soy sauce, ripe tomato, Parmesan cheese, anchovies, and mushrooms..."

"The designer babies have thus been called the “future-we-should-not-want” for each new reproductive technology or intervention. But the babies never came and are nowhere close. I am not surprised."

"Thousands of secular Israelis became newly observant and joined Haredi communities in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, their children and grandchildren are searching for a place of their own."